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Robins welcome new coaches

Monday, 17th September, 2018

David Ruddock (left) and Chris Jones have been appointed as West’s senior co-coaches for 2019. PICTURE: Andrew Gosling David Ruddock (left) and Chris Jones have been appointed as West’s senior co-coaches for 2019. PICTURE: Andrew Gosling

By Tyler Hannigan

In a shock to the local AFL community, former North premiership coach and player David Ruddock has been appointed as West Football Club’s senior co-coach alongside his former assistant Chris Jones.

While rumours had been circulating for weeks, and all but confirmed late last week, the official announcement was made at West’s best and fairest awards night on Saturday.

Ruddock will link up with his 2016 premiership assistant and 2017 North senior coach Jones in the role that will see him take over from Phil Bell who led the Robins over the past two seasons.

Bell was suspended late in the 2018 season, leading to Nathan Pearce taking charge as the interim coach for the final five rounds.

Ruddock said that the idea to coach West came about earlier this year.

“Chris (Jones) and I had a conversation after watching West play Central at the Memorial Oval about half way through the year. We liked what we saw and from there we started to put a plan in place,” Ruddock said.

“West picked up two of the most exciting players we have seen come in the Broken Hill league in years in Greenshields and Colella, but even with players like King, Nelson, Carpenter and co already in the team, it still needs more depth.  

“In reality we need to add 10 to 12 more players to the list. We are talking to everyone we can to make that happen.

“But for now it’s all about planning and putting things in place for when preseason starts in January and we can’t wait for that day to roll around.”

Ruddock played 226 League games for the Bulldogs including four premierships and booted more than 300 goals before coaching the side to the ultimate prize in 2004, 2011 and 2016 - in all three finals North started as underdogs.

That’s a tag Ruddock will need to get used to as he takes on the daunting task of leading West out of the wilderness. The club hasn’t tasted League success since 1990 and was last in a grand final back in 2007.

They picked up just a solitary win in each of the last two seasons having won six games and played in a prelim final back in 2016 under coach Peter Larkins.

But it’s that kind of challenge that drew Ruddock and Jones to the role.

“I have achieved every goal I have set for myself in my coaching career thus far, so this a new challenge for me,” Ruddock explained.

“Our aim is to make West more competitive,” Jones added. 

“My focus in 2019 will be to develop some of the young players that we have on our list. This years Under 13, Under 15 and Under 18 Premiership winning teams have so many talented players in them, it’s just too hard to name them all. The future at West is looking very bright if we can introduce them to senior footy in the correct way.

“We are also very aware that making West more competitive against the other three teams is important for footy in Broken Hill as a whole,” Jones said. 

“At the moment we have two teams dominating the competition and two teams struggling, it’s time to even the playing field. 

“It can only be good for everyone involved, it’s more people paying to come through the gate on Saturdays, knowing that they are going to see a close game. The flow on effect of that is more money spent at the canteen and more people going back to the footy clubs on a Saturday night.”  

Ruddock and Jones were picked from a number of candidates, something that West FC vice president Karen Gosling said was a little unexpected.

“As a board were blown away by the calibre of the applicants that we received for the senior coaching position,” Gosling said. 

“We had several to choose from and all of them bought something different to the table. We know that 2019 is a make it or break it year for our club, so lots of time and consideration was put into making our final decision. 

“We are confident that David and Chris can build on the great work that has been done by Phil Bell over the last two years and we are excited to see what we can achieve as a group next season.”

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